I've learned to slam on the breaks before I even turn the key

I’ve never really had any phobias.  As a child I prided myself in not being scared of things.  I was in no way a daredevil, but I also wasn’t afraid of snakes, spiders, heights or other things the kids my age were afraid of.  Turns out I was also not that afraid of getting in trouble either.

For most of my childhood, we lived in a neighborhood that was a big circle and at the base of the two streets was a cul-de-sac.  Along the edge of that cul-de-sac was a line of pine trees that was our boundary.  We could play anywhere in the neighborhood as long as we stayed on this side of those trees.  Because just beyond those trees was the highway – Route 17.  But, along Route 17 was a gas station and the only thing we needed to do was cut through the trees, walk along a little path and then we had access to ice cream, candy and all the pop we could dream of drinking. 

But of course, the gas station was off limits unless we were with an adult – it was past our boundary.  But I wasn’t scared. At the ripe old age of 8 or 9, I thought I had it all together.  I could lead the crowd of kids to the gas station no problem.  The reward was far greater than the risk of getting caught. 

I look back now and see how ridiculous I was – in a world where we hear about car accidents, abductions and millions of other things going wrong within moments of them happening, I see now how foolish I was as a spunky little kid. 

Of course I did get caught.  Of course I did get punished.  And the punishment worked – I never went back to the gas station just beyond the trees that became my boundary.  For the remainder of my time on Sherwood Dr, I didn’t go past that boundary.

As we grew up, as we moved around the boundaries my parents put on us changed.  And the spunky kid in me never really changed, I constantly challenged those boundaries.  But because we lived in a small town and everyone new my mom – I got caught… a lot. 

Although somewhere along the way, I started to lose my spunk.  The courage that had always been inside of me started to slip away.  I cared more about what others thought of me.  I cared more about whether or not I was making my parents proud.  My boundaries became firmer and less negotiable. 

In some ways, it was a good thing.  I started living in ways that would make my parents proud, never stepping out of the boundaries set for me. 

In other ways, it was debilitating.  Somewhere around middle school or high school I became hyper aware of what others thought of me.  I think some of it was knowing that I was different from my peers in a lot of ways.  All I wanted to do was fit in with everyone else.  I let other people set the boundaries for my actions. 

I began living out of fear.  The fear of losing something that I thought I could obtain by staying in the lines.  Sometimes it was stability I was craving, or approval, or to simply not be the one always sticking out like a sore thumb.  That fear began to rule my life. 

It wasn’t until I was in Seminary that I started to see that fear had become the ruler of my life. 

I’ve started to realize that I am at my best when surrounded by the people who love me the most/best.  I am able to fully be that confident somewhat crazy woman I was created to be.  I think we all know that to be true, but I’m realizing that the fear that’s dictating my life has also created my own glass ceiling.  It makes me afraid to ask for what I know I’m worth.  It makes me afraid to put myself on the line because I’m afraid of what could happen. 

I’m learning to manage that fear.  I’m learning to do a gut check and see what I’m really feeling at any given moment.  Am I afraid because the risk doesn’t seem worth the reward?  Or am I afraid because the risk is known but the reward is unknown? 

It’s easy to take a leap when we know the reward outweighs the risk.  But what if we don’t know what the reward will be?  Can we still take the jump?  Am I capable of crossing the boundary someone else put up for me when I don’t know what’s on the other side?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *